Hayhurst on MLB: Buchholz was cheating, but that’s okay

Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Clay Buchholz was accused of loading the ball against the Toronto Blue Jays

Yesterday, aided by close-up video clearly showing Clay Buchholz going to his arm and wiping his fingers across a foreign-looking substance, I made the statement that he was cheating.

I did so because Buchholz’s right pointer and middle fingers went to a glistening, discoloured patch of something more than skin and sweat on his left forearm. Then, with fingers loaded, he coupled them with his thumb, messaged the pairing, licked the remainder, and took hold of the ball.

Consequently, I accused him — on television, radio, and print — of foul play.

I stand by that statement.

Furthermore, I don’t feel a damn bit sorry about it.

Oh, I’ve heard all the standard retorts:

I’m a career minor-leaguer with crap numbers therefore I don’t know anything about anything.

I’m a broadcaster for a team that (at present) stinks, and is lashing out bitterly at a team that beat it.

I’m jealous of a pitcher infinitely more talented than myself.

I’m desperately reaching for topics since the Blue Jays are such an ugly one.

I’m a shameless, headline-grabbing attention whore.

Mix in a few death threats for spice and you pretty much have my Twitter feed since yesterday afternoon.



The fact remains, Buchholz still went to a patch on his arm to get something he obviously used to help him do something with the ball.

And this is when he wasn’t sticking his hand in his greasy, dripping hair.

But the best part of it all is… I kind of like it.

All pitchers have something on their hands. All of them. From a crappy career minor league like me to budding superstar Buchholz.

Any baseball pitcher will tell you that you’ve got to get some tack on the ball. Hell, Buchholz said it himself after my accusations lit the Internet on fire.

That doesn’t mean it’s not cheating.

I had sources telling me that Buchholz was putting sunscreen on his arms — even though the roof at the Rogers Centre was shut — and mixing it with rosin. In case you didn’t know, sweat, rosin, and sunscreen mixed together make a wonderful, on-the-fly form of baseball Fixodent. Try it. It’s no Crisco, Bardol or Vagisil, but it’s good in a pinch.

Ironically, I wrote an article about Jose Valverde’s supposed spitter last year, essentially defending it. I got lambasted for taking the side of the wicked, and that was over film much less overt than the film of Buchholz loading his fingers.

Now I’m getting lambasted for calling this cheating; cheating when there is solid video evidence to support it.

Pitchers break the law, folks. Some do it in the accepted “it’s only five miles over the limit, officer,” way. Some have big enough names that they can get away with it even when it’s plain for all to see – Cliff Lee’s hat, anyone?

Some do it recklessly and are just begging to get called out on it. Like, say, a guy who blatantly goes to his greasy, splotchy, discoloured arm and sticks his fingers in his mouth or greasy hair.

If you’re following the rules, Buchholz was breaking them. How big or small depends on what was really on his arm.

The only thing that really makes me feel like Clay wasn’t up to any seriously devious cheating is that it was so out in front of your face. No pro cheater would make that mistake.

Barring performance enhancing drugs, I’m actually a firm believer in trying to get an edge. I respect a little tack and slime here and there. It actually takes an amazing amount of skill to use it effectively. In fact, I think it was for doctoring that the phrase, “If you’re not cheating, you’re not trying,” was coined.

But, don’t put me or any other former player/broadcasters in a situation to call you out on it because we will. Jack Morris saw the same things I did and he doesn’t feel a damn bit sorry for saying something either.

Look, I won’t try and tell you the Blue Jays don’t stink when they obviously do.

I won’t try and tell you I’m above a good attention grab.

I won’t even act like I’ve been around as long some of my senior player/broadcasting peers.

But, I was around long enough to know I needed an edge, and subsequently learn how to spot others who are finding one. And for that, I won’t say I’m sorry.

You want to lick and wipe and load up? Be less obvious or deal with the scrutiny.

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